Talking Saints Bring Children’s Literature Performance to Broadwater

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

HELENA – The Talking Saints traded their coach for two goldfish at Broadwater Elementary School on Tuesday, April 20.

“I thought I was worth more than two goldfish,” said coach Brent Northup, after being swapped. “But I guess my market value is declining these days.”

Seven members of Carroll’s speech and debate team took their show on the road – four blocks, to be precise – to perform children’s literature for appreciative grade school kids. The young grade school students brought their lunches outside and sat on the school’s front lawn to enjoy, “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.”

The students were from teacher Jodi Majerus’ 4th and 5th grade Montessori class. Majerus ’04 was a member of the Talking Saints throughout her Carroll years.

Two students in Majerus’ class also are branches from the Talking Saints family tree. Aedan Clark’s dad, Brett was on the team from 1999-2003, and Dean Peterson’s mom and dad were both on the team: Annie Heffelfinger graduating in 2005 and Scott Peterson graduating in 2006.

The performance was originally planned for last October, but when Carroll had an outbreak of COVID-19 and members of the Talking Saints were quarantined as contacts, the show had to be delayed until spring.

“We intended to be here in January,” said Northup, “but then came chilly days and snow at the start of the semester. When it snowed the day before we were scheduled, I thought we were jinxed. But the sun came out the next day. I took that as Mother Nature apologizing.”

Waiting turned out for the better, though.

“The big advantage in waiting was that all Jodi’s students were back in the classroom the day we came. First semester, many of them were online,” said Northup.

The masked Carroll team, comprised mostly of first-year students, used a Bose sound system to amplify the team’s narrator, but the rest of the performers simply turned up their lung volume and roamed amidst the smiling kids to keep them involved.

The team’s directors were Elaina Goulet of East Wenatchee, Washington, and Elissa Mazkour, of Beirut, Lebanon. Joining them were Melissa Jagelski of Ontario, Oregon, Josie Howlett of Bigfork, Montana, Ally Haegele of Helena and Maria Hurd of Seattle. Coach Northup played dad, of course – and got swapped.

The performance completed a project launched last August.

“The team members and coaches literally sat under the St. Albert’s trees in August to decide how to approach a year where tournaments would be online,” said Northup. “The team decided they would rather perform live for children than to compete with their laptops in acting events. In addition to having a live audience, we also got to bring a little joy to cooped up children in a very strange year.”

After the performance, the kids told the Carroll team members which parts they enjoyed most and peppered the team with questions. The kids were happy to serve as theatre critics.

"I thought it was a funny, engaging story. I found the comedy goofy and fun," said Lila.

"I loved how it was read and acted out!” said Carmella.

"I love it. It must have been fun to make,” said Lainey.

When the Carroll performers asked the kids whether they would ever trade somebody in their family for a goldfish, one boy quickly said he would: “My little sister.”

Lily seemed interested in the possibility of joining the Talking Saints. Coach Northup suggested she “skip a few grades” and come this fall, which seemed to delight her.

“I’m going to skip a few and go to Carroll,” Lily said proudly to her classmates, smiling. Lily’s parents were not available for comment.